Nebraska lawmakers near deal on infrastructure revenue boost

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The state of Nebraska could soon get a significant revenue boost to pay for road and bridge work, as well as complete the state’s four-lane expressway system.

The Legislature’s Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to advance a bill that would raise one-half of a billion dollars to be spent over 17 years by the state Department of Roads. The additional revenue would be routed to roads using transfers from the state’s rainy day fund and from state fuel taxes.

Sponsored by Sen. Jim Smith of Papillion at the request of Gov. Pete Ricketts, the bill would create and fund a transportation infrastructure bank to provide up-front money to get road work done sooner.

A one-time transfer of $50 million would be made available from the state’s cash reserve account to help get work completed on roads, bridges and the state’s expressway system.

The governor initially sought three times that amount. In exchange for trimming the amount requested, the committee voted to authorize additional revenue for the infrastructure bank via the state’s 2-cent fuel tax increase approved one year ago.

The annual tax shift is estimated to raise at least $450 million through 2033. At that time, the program would sunset.

The governor’s office spent the weeks before the committee vote shoring up support for the plan he describes as an important infrastructure initiative for the state.

“We have successfully agreed upon improvements ... which will direct additional funding towards accelerated roads construction,” Ricketts said in prepared remarks.

The bill, LB960, awaits a final Senate vote before moving to the governor’s desk for his signature.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Nebraska, click here.

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